There have been comments on prior blog entries and we’ve said it ourselves that this land is quite fantastic. Fantastic in the way that my mind really struggles to grasp. The pictures are untouched. They are what we’ve taken and yet sometimes it’s hard to think it’s real. Readily one can see why “Lord of the Rings” was filmed here. Both islands have left us awestruck, but there are differences in the terrain as well as the weather. The little we saw of the North reminded us of the British Isles, but everything was exaggerated – the mountains were bigger, the valleys were deeper, the range kept on going and going, the greens were more intense. It was more than I expected my mind to imagine and it seemed to never end. Every turn brought another view that was unbelievable.
The South is just as inspiring, but this reminds us of home. These are the Appalachians. These forests are full of evergreens and hard woods. The mountains are still higher, the valleys deeper, the rivers wider, but I can get my mind around this. We’ve seen similar vistas in Tennessee and I’m sure there are more areas I could point to. One big difference is far in the distance are mountains that are even higher and of course in the opposite direction we can view the sea. There are also still the tree ferns and with the sea comes the palm trees.
Today we wandered through the Buller Gorge from Murchison to Westport. The mountains here are made of granite. In fact even yesterday – the beaches were grains of granite which is why they were golden in color. The granite today was darker than yesterday’s and had more striations – or maybe I was just noticing more. The road followed the Buller River closely all the way to the Tasman Sea.
Our way went over the river a number of times and one crossing even involved a stop at the longest swingbridge in New Zealand – sometimes you just have to allow yourself to fall into the tourist trap! This swingbridge is 110m long and 17 meters high above the river. We walked across the swingbridge, but returned by the tandem comet line – a 160 meter long chair zip line. Even bought the video of the ride – and made one from the viewpoint of the chair. It makes a decent story, but I think that James now has the thrill seeking bug and there’s no telling what will happen once we get to Queenstown!
The Buller River runs into the Tasman Sea right at Westport. The river is dark and even red in color I guess could be from the granite. The sea on the other hand is green like a gem. Where the two meet made for quite a mix and surfers were taking advantage of it. The river came out and the sea pushes the river water up the beach. A definite line could be seen where the two waters met. From there we wandered over to Tauranga Bay where there is a fur seal colony. The bay is just south of Cape Foulwind. It was named such by Captain Cook when he said here. The weather that day showed it was aptly named – which may be more of why the surfers were out in force. The fur seals were out at one end of the bay. A number of babies of all ages could be seen running and playing about oblivious to us and to the wind. This morning is very calm, so we may head out there again. It’s somewhat on our way.